Empresas y finanzas

Rheinmetall, Thales interested in Airbus sensor business

By Arno Schuetze

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German defense group RHEINMETALL (RHM.XE) and French peer THALES (HO.PA) are among several groups interested in a defense electronics business that plane maker AIRBUS (EAD.PA) is selling in an effort to streamline its operations, sources familiar with the transaction said.

The two companies as well as U.S.-based Raytheon and a number of private equity groups including Carlyle , Bridgepoint, CVC, KKR , KPS and Triton are expected to hand in tentative offers for the Airbus business by a Friday deadline, they said.

The price tag on the sale, dubbed "Orlando", which is led by investment bank Evercore , may reach up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), the people said.

Airbus, Europe's largest aerospace group, is currently selling several businesses to focus its defense division on warplanes, missiles, launchers and satellites.

A Rheinmetall spokesman said the company was following the divestment activities of Airbus, declining to comment further.

The other companies and private equity investors all declined to comment.

(Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold, Georgina Prodhan, Anneli Palmen, Andrea Shalal, Hasan Saeed and Tim Hepher. Editing by Jane Merriman)